30 Oct 2010

Mastering Mane Pulling

For many, the task of mane pulling is one that is not is one that is looked forward to with great anticipation. Those of you, like myself, will put it off until absolutely necessary, although it’s true that if you do bite the bullet and pull your horses mane on a regular basis, the job will become much easier in the long run!
Whether you relish the though of a mane pulling session or not, a well pulled mane does gives a smart appearance – and if you compete is far easier to plait! It is much easier to maintain than a long thick tangled mane – especially in the Winter when it can get caked with mud, twigs, brambles, etc!
neat mane pulling
Mane Pulling done Neatly
There are various methods and tools which you can use when you decide  to pull a mane; and this can all depend upon the finish you wish to achieve, your horses temperament (whether he objects to having his mane pulled or not), the thickness and hair type of the mane and lastly your level of experience.
How often you will need to repeat the mane pulling process will be unique to every horse, as their manes can grow at different speeds, but as a rule of thumb I would recommend that you pull a mane every six to eight weeks; even if you just give it a tidy up, keeping on top of it will make it easier to manage in the long run.
Remember that the mane will pull more easily if the horse is warm as the pores will be open, so lunging or riding your horse before you start can be preferable.  The mane will pull out more easily as the pores of the skin are open, i.e. after exercise or on a hot day. Many horses will fidget, and some actively dislike it. If the mane is pulled in cold weather when the pores of the skin are shut tight it may cause pain. (I always think it must be like plucking your eyebrows!)
mane pulling half way through the job
Mane pulling - Half way through the job

Top Tips

1)  Always remove the hair from the underside of the mane and NEVER use scissors.
2) Always do a little at a time if it’s a big job, and then leave for a few days to see how the mane settles – especially if you start with a full mane (one that has not been pulled previously).
3)  Think of pulling as ‘tidying’ the mane, rather than pulling to shorten or thin the mane. That way you are less likely to pull out too much and end up with a very short unlevel mane. Don’t be too disheartened if you do make as mistake as it will grow out eventually!
4) Remember to brush out the main often, to check that it is all the same length.

How to…

1. Lay the mane over to the wrong side; comb it through to remove all the knots. This way any hair broken or pulled out by combing will be on the underside of the mane and there will be no ‘ends’ when the mane is laid over to the correct side. I find this method also works very well on a muddy mane.
2. Now lay the mane back over to the side it lies naturally, and comb through again, to remove any last knots.
4. Stand back and have a look to see where the hair is longest and start there. You can see in the picture that the mare has long hair by her withers and shorter in the middle and then longer again towards her ears.
5. Start with the longest hair, with your fingers take hold of some of the long hairs and backcomb the hair until a few strands are left. With a sharp tug remove the hair. Work along the mane taking out the longest hairs.
6. Comb the mane through again and stand back to see if the mane is now level and the length that you require.

A scruffy Mane pull

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